Washed Away: From Darkness to Light by Nikki Dubose

four stars

washedNikki Dubose’s Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is a modern take on an old genre, namely the salvation narrative. It begins with a brief anecdote of the author at her worst, before providing a chronological memoir of Dubose’s life. Dubose’s early childhood was riddled with abuse and neglect. She is brutalized by her stepfather, sexually molested by a family friend, and forced to deal with her mother’s mental illness, which results in yet more abuse. Dubose internalizes this abuse, and the reader witnesses her become her own worst enemy, hounded by the voices in her head that tell her she is disgusting, ugly, fat, and worthless. These voices are only silenced by her compulsive behavior, which includes round after round of binging and purging. Despite all of this, Dubose manages to become a well-known model, which unfortunately only exacerbates her eating disorder and body dysmorphia. Dubose only truly begins to heal after her mother’s untimely, but not unexpected, death. The tragedy allows her to begin to forgive not only those who harmed her, but herself as well.

Dubose tells the reader early on that she writes to raise awareness of mental health issues and to provide support to those who suffer as she once did. Indeed, the epilogue contains a step-by-step guide to beginning the process of healing as well as numerous resources for those who need help. For fans of the genre and for others in Dubose’s position, this book is a welcome addition. Dubose’s story is easy to read, and, unlike similar tales, Dubose chronicles the many false starts and relapses that accompany such illnesses and addictions. She does not leave out any painful details, but instead reveals how truly difficult and life-changing recovery can be. At times, such detail can be repetitive. Furthermore, the language is occasionally ornate, even flowery. Nonetheless, readers will appreciate Dubose’s honesty and should find her story both moving and inspirational.

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